What does it mean to live and die in relation to other animals?
Animal Intimacies posits this central question alongside the intimate—and intense—moments of care, kinship, violence, politics, indifference, and desire that occur between human and non-human animals.
Built on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayas, Radhika Govindrajan’s book explores the number of ways that human and animal interact to cultivate relationships as interconnected, related beings. Whether it is through the study of the affect and ethics of ritual animal sacrifice, analysis of the right-wing political project of cow-protection, or examination of villagers’ talk about bears who abduct women and have sex with them, Govindrajan illustrates that multispecies relatedness relies on both difference and ineffable affinity between animals.
Animal Intimacies breaks substantial new ground in animal studies, and Govindrajan’s detailed portrait of the social, political and religious life of the region will be of interest to cultural anthropologists and scholars of South Asia as well.
Radhika Govindrajan is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Washington.
“Written in a lively style combining reflexive reportage with anthropological analysis,
Animal Intimaciesvividly portrays the everyday life and social concerns of villagers in the hill state of Uttarakhand through their interactions with household domesticates and encounters with forest animals. Its chapter-by-chapter engagement with a succession of distinct interspecies relations makes for a memorable and innovative ethnography. Govindrajan's richly detailed account of human lives led with animals succeeds in addressing many contemporary issues confronting people in India’s hill-states, while also making a valuable contribution to the anthropology of human-animal relations.”
— Piers Locke, University of Canterbury
Animal Intimacies is written in a beautiful style, and the scholarship is exemplary: both rigorous and creative. Govindrajan's exceptional ethnography demonstrates the range of relationships people in the central Himalayas of India have with animals—relationships that can be described, ultimately, as ones of everyday, entangled intimacy. By showing us the textures of these intimacies, Govindrajan demonstrates that animals are not mere objects in the lives and reflections of humans, but are thinking, feeling subjects themselves, playing equal parts in human-animal cohabitation.”
— Naisargi N. Dave, University of Toronto
“Recommended. . .
Animal Intimaciesprovides a fascinating ethnographic study on the social and emotional entanglements of humans and animals in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. . .Govindrajan’s ethnography reveals that the agency of animal subjects has significantly shaped the social relations, everyday ethical practices, and religious worldviews of the Pahari peoples of Uttarakhand. This text will appeal widely to students interested in human-animal relations and critical applications of posthumanist theories.”